News / Science & Technology

US Unveils Green Supercomputer

Argonne Unveils Green Supercomputeri
X
July 16, 2013 9:59 PM
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago is home to one of the newest, fastest, most efficient supercomputers in the country, called MIRA. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, despite the new equipment, lawmakers are concerned that the United States is losing the international supercomputing race, a field it has dominated for decades.
Kane Farabaugh
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago is home to one of the newest, fastest, most efficient supercomputers in the country, called MIRA.  But despite the new equipment, lawmakers are concerned that the United States is losing the international supercomputing race, a field it has dominated for decades.

Lined up in a sprawling room on the second floor of Argonne National Laboratory’s Theory and Computing Sciences building is the future of supercomputing.

Argonne Director Eric Isaacs says MIRA can go where few computers can.

“A machine like this enables us to start solving complex problems, and by complex problems, I mean problems that have many moving parts," he said. "Like a jet engine, a photovoltaic cell, like a grid, if you think about a power grid, a power grid is a very complicated thing.”

When construction and assembly of MIRA began, it was projected to be the third fastest computer on the planet, clocking in at around 10 petaflops.

“That’s 10 quadrillion operations per second.  That’s just very fast,” according to Isaacs.

But not fast enough to stay on top.

By the time U.S. Senator Dick Durbin arrived at Argonne for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to officially dedicate the newest machine on the supercomputing block, MIRA had fallen to fifth place in the global ranking of the world’s fastest computers.

“The fastest computer in the world is in China,” Isaacs said.

That computer, known as The Milky Way 2 housed in Guangzhou, is about three times the speed of Argonne’s MIRA.

“It’s also a real threat," Isaacs said.  "We’re now seeing China more often take the lead role of being the fastest or having the fastest machine in the world.”

The trend troubles Durbin, who wants the United States to remain competitive in the supercomputing race.

“There’s a competition in this world not just for jobs but for basic research that can be applied to the private sector and public sector, and the world of supercomputing is where many of those battles will be fought,” he said.

Durbin says there also are battles to be fought in the U.S. Congress, where funding for supercomputers is bogged down in the politics of deficit reduction and tighter budgets.

“They know the cost, but they don’t know the value," he said. "We really need to educate members of Congress this supercomputing competition is really key to America’s competitiveness and to a lot of breakthroughs that will benefit the whole world.”

Although MIRA is not the fastest, it does hold the distinction of being the most energy efficient.  Air around the processors inside the machine is cooled using chilled water in copper tubes instead of fans, which also reduces the amount of noise it creates.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ultra Man from: M78 Nebula
July 19, 2013 11:48 PM
We know how to create faster super computers but we don't know what to be calculated.
All super computers around the world is not working and waiting for thier job.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 16, 2013 8:59 PM
Now we know a Chinese super computer is the number one at the speed of calculation in the world. A Japanese computer has been the fastest one as well as US ones before.There once broke up an argument in Japan whether we should seek number one place eventhough developement cost is high enough to worsen government debt. I wonder if we actually need faster computer than the present one. Super computer race looks like outerspace developement race.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs